Kindberg portrays the transition to American life in luminous detail, using each scene to explore another facet of the unfamiliar norms, sensations, and experiences of the Hendersons’ new home: soft beds, single braids instead of cornrows, attending school, seeing Shakespeare plays, driving, movies, the ocean. Adelaide is shocked by the racist way her friends are treated. Frederica tells her about the Klansmen who routinely sow terror in her neighborhood, and Nathan’s speech about Black rights is unfairly cut short by a teacher. After Lion is unfairly fired, Adelaide quits her job in solidarity. All the while, she saves up money for her return trip to Ethiopia, even as she becomes more attached to her American friends and the prospect of college.
Cleverly drawing readers into Adelaide’s life, Kindberg illuminates the injustice of segregation and racism without being preachy or didactic, portrays characters of various ages and backgrounds with dignity and tenderness, and expertly structures the plot. She draws this principled, independent, loyal girl so realistically that readers will feel they’re talking to an old friend. This beautiful novel will move readers as it immerses them in Adelaide’s coming of age and gently teaches ways to stand up for what’s right.
Takeaway: Teen readers interested in the civil rights era will be enthralled by this nuanced story of race relations in the 1960s American South, seen through the eyes of a white girl raised in Ethiopia.
Great for fans of Susan Follett’s The Fog Machine, Kristin Levine’s The Lions of Little Rock.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A